I have to speed over pita, just for today. This is much better.
Yesterday was what felt like the hottest day of the summer thus far, or at the very least, the stickiest. The humidity was so heavy you practically had to move it out of the way to walk through it, a curtain of muggy, damp, summer air.
I mention this only to help explain the fact that pasta with mushroom ragu was decidedly not what the weather called for last night. Salad would have been more fitting. Perhaps no food at all would have been better, and just really cold beer and freezer packs alternated with new ones as they thawed.
But it happened, as it sometimes does, that what was in the fridge came together in a mushroom ragu kind of way, or the stars aligned, or I really didn’t mind all the pasta kneading on such a hot day.
A customer at the restaurant the other day left a note on the back of their receipt thanking the server and complimenting the food. I am tempted to borrow from their own words about our kobe beef, for lack of a better way to describe this pasta. It was, as the man that sat at table twenty this weekend would say, downright transcendental. It is a rather dramatic description, yes, perhaps a little pretentious-sounding, but this time, really just spot on.
Try this. You’ll know what I mean. Pasta can be transcendental, probably unbeknownst to Thoreau. Something about it is incredibly complex-tasting, even though you can count the ingredients on two hands. I blame it on the red wine.
Fettuccine with Mushroom Ragù
The eggplant in this recipe really just helped to bulk up the sauce; feel free to use more if you want the flavor to be more pronounced. Also, whatever kind of mushrooms you have on hand will more than suffice. This is my favorite kind of recipe – it is one very easily thrown together, mostly by eye.
½ a large eggplant, finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
8 oz mushrooms finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon black olive tapenade, or mined black olives
1/3 (or thereabouts) cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
12 ounces fresh fettuccine
Sweat garlic and onion in olive oil until translucent. Add mushrooms and eggplant and cook over medium heat until they wilt and give up their juices. Don’t let juices evaporate. Stir in tomato paste and tapenade. Add wine, cook briefly, then season with oregano, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add fettuccine, stir to separate strands and cook about 3 minutes. Transfer fettuccine to skillet. Add just a bit of olive oil to the noodles. Gently fold ingredients together over low heat until mushroom mixture has reheated and is evenly mixed with fettuccine. Top with grated pecorino if you’d like (you should like, it makes it much better).